1946 French Constitution In West Africa

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1946 French Constitution In West Africa

Most of the recommendations of the Brazzaville Conference of 1944 were accepted and incorporated into the French Constitution of 1946. The following provisions of the constitution had profound effect on the constitutional and political development of the territories.

  • The eight West African territories (excluding Togo) became part of the French Union. This development was short of independence as the territories remained part of the French Republic.
  • The French Parliament retained the power to make laws on subjects like foreign affairs, law and order, citizenship and fundamental human rights.
  • The Council of Ministers continued to make policies for the territories.
  • The French Minister for Overseas Territories retained his power to supervise the administration of the territories.
  • The indigenat and forced labour were abolished.
  • French citizenship was granted to Africans residing in the territories.
  • The Constitution introduced a new law-making structure in the territories.

A local legislature or territorial assembly was established in each of the territories and the members were indirectly elected. A grand council which legislated for the whole federation also operated from Dakar.

The 40 members of the council were also indirectly elected. The third legislative body which made laws for the territories was the French parliament. In 1951, the African countries elected 20 members of the French parliament. These lawmakers agitated for better conditions of service for public servants they contributed tremendously to the development of nationalism in the territories.

This complex system of representation encouraged all-year round electioneering activities in the territories and these activities helped in raising the political consciousness of the people. A lawmaker could serve in the three legislative bodies at the same time. Representation in the legislatures helped to forge alliances and creating broad-based organizations such as pelitical parties and trade unions.

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